By George Miller
The first Oxnard City Council meeting of the year on January 7 had a fairly light, non-controversial agenda. The opioid crisis and homeless shelter were the two most notable items discussed. Off-agenda, City Mgr. Nguyen announced in the City Manager’s oral report the abandonment of the proposed homeless shelter/”Navigation Center,” as these are now referred to. He said the city would instead seek an alternate location to accommodate more comprehensive services. There were many objections to the site for that, nearness to residential areas, traffic congestion and two nearby liquor stores.
The police dept. prepared and delivered a report on the opioid crisis, what to do about it and what is being done about it. Nationally, 130 people/day, 64,000/yr died, as of 2016.
The City proclaimed the greatness of famed and revered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and announced the upcoming march and celebration from Plaza Park to the PAL gym at 0800 on January 20, MLK day.
A host of consent agenda items were approved. Item #1 on the closed meeting agenda was continued after the open meeting. Item #6 tree maintenance services was pulled from the agenda.
E- Ceremonial Items
1. SUBJECT: Presentation of a Proclamation Designating January 20, 2020 as “Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. Day.”
The MLK- Ventura County Committee received the proclamation celebrating MLK Day. This year, the celebration will be at the Oxnard PAL gym on Monday, 1-20-20, starting with an 8 am march from Plaza Park to the PAL Gym, where the program will take place .This year’s event theme is “Dream, Believe and Act.” There will also be an event at the AME church.
2. SUBJECT: Presentation of a Commendation to Marvin Boos for his commitment to beautifying our City.
Mr. Boos said “Ask not what your city can do for you, but what you can do for your city. He noticed the degradation of city landscaping, litter/refuge and worse and set about to fix at least some of it himself. This has inspired others to do likewise to help beautify the city. Tonight he was commended by the city.
3. (not agendized)- The City recognized several police officers for excellent handling of a potentially violent, suicidal person in Plaza Park. They avoided violence and used a K-9 (police dog) to stop him with minimal injury.
Specifically honored were:
… and of course, K-9 dog “Capone” who did the takedown.
F- Public Comments on Items Not on the Agenda
Ray Blutel- Has issues with a PW (Public Works?) contract. He wanted to show City Manager how to accurately calculate costs of MOU’s (Memorandums of Understanding) for bargaining unit contracts. He maintains that current reports do not state the total, but only incremental costs. (The City Manager and HR have previously pointed out that the figures are not inaccurate, but Blutel and others think it would be more useful to also show the totals, not just increases.)
Jack Villa- re: homeless shelter location. Concerned about impact on residents, businesses, traffic. Want to help the homeless without negative impacts. Thinks number of homeless will double in 4-5 years and shelter would be too small.
Julie Pena- For Oxnard Shores Neighborhood Council- tx to Brian Yenez and Joe Perez- thanks for distribution mulch from tree trimming to needed areas. Members volunteered to apply it. Also have volunteers to clean and decorate walkways. Asks for transparency on Aaron Starr lawsuits- wants to stop them.
Kendall Lucine- Naval Base VC will host Pt Mugu Air Show in October. First time since 2015. Blue Angels will be flying FA-18’s and more acts. Will advise details later.
Cory Branch Flower- Shelter Care Resources – Assists Foster and Homeless families- provides material resources- clothing, etc. Also have a Friday food pantry. Helps homeless “navigate” the way to getting help. Located in Oxnard behind St Johns. 805-612-7091. Partners with Calvary Chapel Oxnard
Gabriel Teran- Chair Freemont So. Neighborhood Council. Thanks to Mr. Marvin Boos, encourages more volunteers. Wants city to recruit/manage volunteers in various areas. City should publish tree-trimming schedule.
Pat Brown- Those “special meetings” (Committee meetings) are very lightly attended. Working people don’t have time to do this, especially as they are already busy during the daytime. Should consolidate meetings. Use less time (as she ran over her own allocated time).
JoAnne Orivada- Heavy heart, extremely angry at some city council people. So many negative things going on in city and with council. Council members are at fault, City in the red- gets worse and worse and worse. Lack transparency. Citizens treated like they are stupid and we’re not. A company owes a tremendous amount of money, going up, nothing changes, whistleblower muzzled. We turn off people who can’t pay water bills but let big companies not pay, not hold them accountable. Council should run the city, not city manager. Can’t keep paying for people terminated. (Councilman Bert Perello interjected, blamed it on Internet misinformation).
G- City Manager Report
City Mgr. Alex Nguyen- Praised police handling of Plaza Park incident, attributed to good training, leadership. Regarding proposed Saviers shelter site: This project terminated and city will pursue another site with a more comprehensive set of solutions. It only would have been a replacement shelter- no net gain. Will seek a location for shelter and co-located social work, health, admin and “Housing First” units. Need housing First facilities throughout the city, not just a shelter, which alone will not solve homelessness. Anticipates neighborhoods opposition. We call them “navigation centers, because they provide more than just shelter. He says even San Francisco, a center of “Liberal Progressivism,” has residents who strongly oppose local shelters. Must push Housing First. He’s getting complaints from people asking to do things wholly inappropriate.
Council Comments (all wished happy new year)
Ramirez- Looking forward to a more positive year. City is on way to more financial stability. Thank CA firefighters for fighting Australian fires. Blamed it all there and here on climate change. Not doing enough about it. MLK is a hero. Only love can drive out hate. Hate is on the move nationally and internationally. This is why we are in trouble and war seems to be inevitable in MidEast.
MacDonald- Shout out to staff- we appreciate you. Keep thoughts on our military. This week is transportation week- meetings. Will also meet with CalTrans. Will be involved with SoCal Edison services.
Perello- Too much wealth is not good for happiness. All elected officials are allowed to go to public to inform them ( referring to Treasurer Molina). He thinks that Molina should tell people about mistakes, not just broadcast them publicly. He says some of Molina’s (mass-mailed email) memos are not 100% factual. He likes committee approach, unlike Pat Brown. Upset about homicides, fatal auto accidents. Wants brighter street lights. Exercise care, don’t wear dark clothes at night. Need transparency re- military situation. Forgot some paperwork on recall election- had to pay $250 fine for forgetting to file a form. We may be $55MM on the hook for potential liabilities. ( he said he would tell me more about it Wednesday, so we’ll get back to you). Late bulletin- we are doing a story on it- watch for it.
Flynn- We should report successes with homeless problem- called up Hsg. Director Emilio Ramirez, who announced Sunday 3 PM Plaza Park event on homeless issues AND HELPING, sponsored by the faith community and Oxnard Police Dept (see below) ….
A message and invitation from Oxnard Police Chief Scott Whitney Greetings Faith Leaders! On January 12th at 3 p.m. in Plaza Park, a diverse group of Oxnard’s faith leaders are coming together to hold a community service. The purpose of the event is to bring people of different beliefs together to work toward a common […]
Formerly homeless Joan Lucas, 80, published author on homelessness, will speak at the event. She was moved into permanent housing just last week,
Treasurer Molina attempted to dispute Petrillo’s characterization of his comments as inaccurate. Mayor Flynn stopped him cold, citing a Brown Act violation.
City Mgr. Nguyen- Item 6 pulled until next meeting. Corrected version of redevelopment payment schedule- had 5 wrong date- no financial impact.
Flynn item 3 North H subdividing. People will attempt to develop this with 5 bedroom, 4 bath homes. residents feel these would turn into hotels. This wouldn’t cause any concern in Camarillo or Thousand Oaks.
I-K- Consent Agenda.
These items are normally voted on as a group without discussion, unless items are specifically pulled for discussion by a council member
Phil Molina- pointed out another error in item 3
Jackie Tedeschi- On item 6. Tree maintenance (pulled). re- LMD’s. Would staff please mention neighborhoods affected. Re; #11 treatment chemicals- Is there a transportation cost fee?
Pat Brown- Re: #8 traffic signs- wants signs to direct trucks on Oxnard Blvd.
Perello- Thanks to Molina for K-2 corrections. Wants such corrections done in public like this, not in mass emails,
Vote- Unanimous approval, 6-0.
L- 1- SB 998 Water Services Policy for discontinuance
Eden Alomeri, Asst City Treasurer- Policy will be changed to comply with SB998. Applies only to non-paying residents scheduled for shut off of service. Must have a written policy in place by Feb. 1. Amendment is due later. Must offer deferred payment plan, appeal prices and number to call. must be posted on city web site. Must be 60 days delinquent before termination. Termination could be stopped if: Primary care provider could say that discontinuance could be life threatened; Demonstrate financial inability to pay. Service disconnection and restoration fees are also cut in the latter case.Must provide 7 day notice, leave hard copy at residence, make good faith to reach them.
MacDonald brought up the case of multiple responsible parties and switching names on the bill to duck paying.
Ramirez- favorsa this, concerned about tenant water being turned off if landlord doesn’t pay will. Water shutoff sometimes used by landlords to get tenants out- illegal.
Perello- what if people wish to withhold payment for poor service/quality (water, trash pickup). Policy (not notices) in multiple languages? A- English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and ___? A home is red-tagged if water is shut off.
Madrigal- Politicians got this bill wrong- still not enough to help the poor. 200% below the poverty rate is under $13/hr. Landlords can easily find loopholes.
Molina- agrees with Madrigal. We’re complying with state law, but it doesn’t really meet needs. We try to work out payment arrangements.
Flynn- This is an attempt by state legislature to minimize compromising people’s’ health and safety. We have a subsidy fund (but small). We should work with people to help them get through crises.
Perello-Agrees with Madrigal- won’t help everyone.
No public speakers
Vote- Approved unanimously
L-2- Reducing Opioid Related Deaths.
The city wants to raise awareness of opioid crisis, what can be done about it and what is being done about it. This is literally a life or death problem that has worsened in recent years. They had Oxnard PD study the problem and report back to them. Everyone should watch the report on video and/or read the agenda packet materials on it. The Presentation was done by Commander Sharon Giles
Presenters and videos highlighted the scope and severity of the opioid crisis, which has grown dramatically: Naloxone is used to treat overdoes and doesn’t create more drug use; Over 1000 prevention kits were distributed with 350 “reversals” claimed; call 805-667-6663 to get a kit. Had 6 calls in December.
130 people/day- 64,000/yr died, as of 2016 in USA, latest year that statistics were available for.
170 of the 600 Ventura County Coroner’s exams conclude that deaths were due to drug overdoses. 41 of the O.D. deaths were in Oxnard. There were 190 overdose calls in 208. Naloxone (Narcan) nasal spray is administered for overdoses.
What else police are doing to help: collecting unneeded medications, improving response protocol, referral procedures, documentation/reporting, collaboration with Ventura County Behavioral Health org, publicity campaigns.
When Giles was asked why things have gotten so bad, she placed blame on laxening of drug laws. Not mentioned were laxening of other laws lessening theft penalties (theft is how many addicts fund their habits), prison release rulings and laws, too. She also seemed to lament that it’s not a crime to use drugs anymore and warned us to take care in how you vote.
Total alcohol & drug related overdose deaths in Ventura County 170
Opioid-related deaths in Ventura County 96
Alcohol & drug overdoses in Oxnard 41
Opioid-related overdose deaths in Oxnard 19
Narcan administrations by OXPD personnel 9
Methamphetamine-related overdose deaths in Oxnard 17
Read report in the agenda materials
Gabriel Teran- Works in health and prevention. Worked in addiction treatment previously. Incredibly difficult for people to get out of. Avoiding withdrawal symptoms becomes as important as getting high. Not always obvious who addicts are- can be anyone. Naloxone not harmful, doesn’t make addiction worse/more likely. The alternative is to let people suffer/die.
Pat Brown- Someone should be keeper of the pills to make sure people don’t take too much. She did this for her husband.
Ramirez- Don’t flush pharmaceuticals down the toilet- they get into water supply. Agrees with Teran’s comments. Know many who take opioids for chronic pain- very hard to get off them. Do not over prescribe/overdose. Massive loss of life- needs more attention.
Madrigal- Was recertified for CPR, learned how to use Narcan. cCan happen to anyone, You get addicted quickly.
Perello- Noted Oxnard has fewer opioid deaths (reported) than much smaller Ventura. Is it too late to take someone to the hospital when they have stopped breathing? A: probably. Kids should not be in the house with addicts. Big Pharma incentivized opioid sales. Is there a problem with adulterated drugs? A: not testing for this.
OPD- 17 meth OD’ s reported last year.
Flynn- Avoid taking opioids unless necessary. Take alternate meds or smaller doses. People getting more conscious of not accidentally getting addicted. How can we have more of an impact on this- education, spreading the word and what else? A: Some law changes have not had people have consequences for drug usage. Treatment and education were supposed to have helped. Not a crime anymore. That doesn’t help. Make sure you understand what you’re voting for. Commander Chiles)
The council was just receiving a report, so no vote required
The Council went back in closed session item C-1- real property negotiators Del Norte recycling /Agromin.
George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.